[Annual Lecture] A future of ‘algorithmic warfare’? Human agency and the rule of law in the age of artificial intelligence

Published 20 November 2020

Man using artificial intelligence on smart phone with augmented reality application for recognising food (©Shutterstock)

On Thursday 26 November, the T.M.C. Asser Instituut will host its Sixth Annual T.M.C. Asser Lecture. We are delighted to welcome Professor Andrew Murray who will join us online to deliver his lecture ‘Almost human: law and human agency in the time of artificial intelligence.’ Register now to attend this highly relevant and thought-provoking event.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is all around us: from the smartphones in our hands to drone strikes thousands of miles away. While this technology has many benefits such as simplifying complex data and making daily tasks easier, it also has dangerous implications. How and why does the rise of AI threaten the rule of law and what kind of regulatory frameworks are needed to manage this omnipresent technology? Professor Andrew Murray will address these questions and more at the online T.M.C. Asser Sixth Annual Lecture on 26 November at 16.00 CET.

Lecture Abstract

Law is about agency - the human capacity to act independently and to make our own free choices. As Jeremy Webber observes, ‘Law is consciously created’ and is the distillation of the collective agency of a society, group, or culture. The rule of law is the ultimate distillation of this principle: the clear spirit of human choice in the purest form.

However, the process of datafication: the reduction of the complexity of the world to data values, threatens the fabric of human agency and the rule of law. Complexity becomes numerical values and choices become mathematical processes. Human brains, less equipped for this form of decision-making, risk being replaced by algorithmic decision-making. Human agency diminishes as Artificial Intelligence ascends.

LawTech replaces lawyers; risk assessments replace actuaries; there is even the possibility of ‘algorithmic warfare’. In meeting this challenge, the focus to date has been to invest in AI Ethics rather than AI Regulation. The EU Commission, in its recent White Paper, recommended ethical guidelines could be the foundation for a human-centric trust framework in AI. This 6th Annual T.M.C. Asser lecture challenges this normative assumption by identifying the foundations of datafication and addressing its challenge to human agency and, above all, the rule of law.

About Andrew Murray

Prof. Murray is a leading thinker on information technology law and regulation, who focuses on regulatory design within Cyberspace and on the protection and the promotion of Human Rights within the digital environment. He is a Professor of Law and Deputy Head of the Department of Law at the London School of Economics where he researches and teaches in the fields of Internet and new media law, including the laws of digital surveillance and digital privacy. In 2018/19 prof. Murray was the specialist advisor to the British House of Lords Communications Committee inquiry ‘Regulating in a Digital World’.

He has written a number of impactful books, including, The Regulation of Cyberspace (2007), Rethinking the Jurisprudence of Cyberspace (2018) and Information Technology Law: The Law and Society (4th edition, 2019). Click here for a video on Law in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.

Registration & questions

To attend the online T.M.C. Asser Sixth Annual Lecture with Professor Andrew Murray, please register here to receive a streaming link prior to the event. For enquiries, please contact TMCAsserLecture@asser.nl.